Happy New Year! If you are like many sales professionals, you are thrilled to have survived the end of 2019 madness, and you are ready to jump into 2020!
However, if you have growth targets this year, and your sales cycle is longer than 90 days, the clock has already started ticking! Can you hear it? I can hear mine!
Here are five easy steps you can use for a strong 2020. Start now and you can help avoid another end-of-year nail biter.
- Mind the Gap – Know Your Numbers
Start by identifying your pipeline gap. For example: You have a $5M Total Contract Value (TCV) target, and you comfortably expect $1M in “run rate” revenue this year. If you have high probability opportunities in the pipeline valued at $1.5M that you expect to close in the next six months, you will have to create demand to cover the $2.5M gap. Obviously, it isn’t a one for one value. You need more than that to cover the gap. You need to gross it up based upon your average close rate (# of deals), typical deal size, and sales cycle length. Then you can determine what your pipeline revenue target should be, and by when.
With an average close rate of 40%, an average deal size of $500K, and an average sales cycle of six months, you will have to create 12.5 new opportunities worth $500K or more by June 30th (or, roughly two+ new opportunities per month) to fill the $2.5M gap. That is on top of the $1M run rate and the $1.5M of high probability opportunities you have been chasing since the last quarter or two.
Math shown: Pipeline gap of $2,500,000 divided by the close rate of 40% = $6,250,000. The gap of $6.25M divided by the average deal size of $500,000 = 12.5 new deals to be created. With a six-month sales cycle maximum, we need at least two+ a month by the end of June to be able to have it closed by year end.
- Set Your Activity Plan
Now that you know your pipeline target to cover your pipeline gap, develop an activity plan to achieve it. I worked with one strategic sales professional who had five assigned accounts. We identified four new decision makers in different functional areas (e.g. HR, Finance, Marketing, Regulatory) beyond the traditional IT decision makers. This gave them 25 targeted people they could reasonably expect to get to for a sales conversation. They then created Value Propositions for each decision maker, by tailoring one designed for each buying persona, and set a target of meeting with at least one decision maker per week in the first half of the year.
There are other activities you might employ on a regular basis as well. You can create new sales opportunities by conducting strategic account reviews, executive meetings, innovation workshops, and where allowed by the client, providing entertainment. Well targeted sales activity drives results!
- Leverage the Revenue Storm Demand Management™ Toolkit
Many of you have heard the analogy of pilots and their checklists. Regardless of experience and skill, every time a pilot takes off, lands, or experiences an in-flight anomaly, they consult the checklist first to ensure they don’t miss anything.
The same goes for selling. Why would you risk missing something in your key sales pursuits? The Revenue Storm tools are designed to leverage science and provide clarity on where you stand in your deals and identify what “dials” you should turn to improve your success. These tools will be used at different times in your sales cycle, but why not leverage the insight they can provide you? Go in prepared to win, like any good professional sports player, leveraging all the advancements that can help them to be better. Don’t forget what each tool does:
- Qualifier™ Tool – What does the tool objectively calculate as your sales prioritization? Which opportunities are more qualified to deserve your focus?
- Relationship Barometer™ Tool – Who has the most influence on the buying decision that you need to invest your time with? Who can help you get to them?
- Pursuit Profiler™ Tool – What is your objective probability of winning? Where should you focus your sales execution efforts?
- Competitive Win Plan™ Tool – What is your position of competitive advantage in this sales situation? What strengths should you be leveraging? What vulnerabilities do you need to shore up?
- Encounter Plan™ Tool – To better prepare for both the intellectual and emotional components of important sales meetings to boost your probability for a great meeting from the client’s perspective… the only perspective that really matters!
While the death risk is much greater for the pilot and their passengers on a plane versus a sales pursuit, remember, it is what you don’t know or miss in a deal that will hurt you!
- Document Your Sales Success Plan
Document how you plan on achieving your 2020 Sales Success, including your financial bookings/TCV target, your sales win rates and close rates, your pipeline gap and pipeline revenue target to ensure you bridge that gap. What sales actions and activity plan will get you those targets? How will you leverage the Revenue Storm tools during your pursuits?
According to Inc. Magazine, you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down.
Post your plan in your office and share it with your Sales Leader and your Sales Success Partner (below).
- Create a Sales Success™ Partner
Regardless of how consistently your Sales Leaders are conducting pipeline and forecast reviews, deal qualification meetings, or coaching sessions, your personal accountability is the critical element in creating new habits. Create a Sales Success Partner whom you can work with to help hold you accountable for your plan. It should be someone who understands the Revenue Storm tools and concepts and you trust to provide honest feedback and “motivation” when required.
Establish a schedule to check in regularly with your Sales Success Partner to update them on your progress, discuss any issues you may be having, and share successes.
A Final Word. Here’s the amazing thing – when you employ this approach consistently, your numbers in #1 and #2 above are almost certain to change. Your average deal size and your average close rate will go up, and your average sales cycle time should decrease. This means the number of new opportunities you will have to create and the level of activity you will have to maintain will decrease as well – all which will make for a very successful year and a very relaxing and joyous December!
Personal Challenge: Create and document your 2020 Sales Success Plan, share it with your Sales Leader, and create your Sales Success Partner this month. Begin execution of your plan the following week!